<![CDATA[Army Times]]>https://www.armytimes.comFri, 14 Jul 2023 04:23:10 +0000en1hourly1<![CDATA[Military Times presents the 2023 Service Members of the Year]]>https://www.armytimes.com/smr/smoy/2023/07/09/military-times-presents-the-2023-service-members-of-the-year/https://www.armytimes.com/smr/smoy/2023/07/09/military-times-presents-the-2023-service-members-of-the-year/Sun, 09 Jul 2023 14:02:39 +0000These are stories that will leave you in awe.

A Marine who braved Taliban fire at the Kabul airport to safely coordinate air traffic in the largest noncombatant evacuation in military history.

An Army soldier who supported and trained Ukrainian armed forces and helped deter Russian aggression.

A Navy search and rescue medical technician who risked his own life in an attempt to rescue two endangered hikers on the icy slopes of a mountain in Washington.

A Space Force guardian who transformed two aircraft shelters in eastern Europe into U.S. Space Command’s first space electromagnetic warfare combat stronghold.

An Air Force flight nurse who wheeled patients right past the Taliban during the evacuation at Kabul airport and provided intensive care unit-level support on medical flights out of the country.

A Coast Guardsman and mentor who captains a response cutter and has saved the lives of dozens of capsized migrants at sea.

An Army veteran who juggles a corporate job supporting vets, a health care nonprofit and a semi-pro basketball team.

They all have remarkable tales to tell.

These seven are the 2023 Military Times Service Members of the Year.

The annual awards program, established in 2001, recognizes and salutes the exemplary service of military personnel, both active and reserve, and — since 2018 — one veteran. And this year we are proud to honor our first Space Force guardian.

These awards are also intended to recognize and honor the achievements, both large and small, of all who wear the uniforms of the U.S. armed forces.

The honorees and their families are being flown to Washington, D.C., for a fun-filled visit to the nation’s capital and a special awards ceremony attended by congressional, military and community leaders.

Their experiences and achievements embody the spirit of professional excellence, personal sacrifice and resilience that highlight the best of the military. They have gone above and beyond.

We are thrilled to present them to you.

<![CDATA[On NATO’s eastern flank, this soldier rose to the challenge]]>https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2023/07/09/on-natos-eastern-flank-this-soldier-rose-to-the-challenge/https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2023/07/09/on-natos-eastern-flank-this-soldier-rose-to-the-challenge/Sun, 09 Jul 2023 14:00:05 +0000He’d seen it coming — everyone in the Germany-based 2nd Cavalry Regiment did — but Justin Bolin remembers the day that everything changed.

In late 2021, as months of warnings that Russia would invade Ukraine rose to a crescendo, Master Sgt. Bolin was the regiment headquarters troop’s first sergeant. If something happened, the service’s only Europe-based brigade combat team would have to load up its Stryker combat vehicles and respond.

“Going into the Christmas block leave period, right before the Russian invasion, we all had this ominous sense of, ‘Hey, go enjoy your vacation. But...keep your bag ready to go because something’s popping off in the east,’” he recounted in a phone interview with Army Times. Bolin will soon attend the Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Soon after his return to Germany in early 2022, Bolin received a phone call — his “lightbulb moment,” as he described it.

“‘You need to deploy the regiment to Romania within the next two weeks,’” he recalled being told. “‘We don’t know what [we’ll be] doing, but we have to take this whole regiment and move it forward.’”

As the headquarters first sergeant, Bolin was ultimately responsible for getting the regiment’s staff set up and ready to operate at Romania’s Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base. There wasn’t a plan in place. But Bolin knew the base from a previous mission, and he knew who to call for support from other commands and agencies.

U.S. Army Strykers from 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, convoy at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany. (Staff Sgt. Jose Ibarra/Army)

Less than a month after the regiment arrived, Russian troops advanced across the border into Ukraine, reigniting the largest land war seen in Europe since World War II. Bolin’s unit was the first to respond, and others quickly followed as the Army rapidly expanded its forward-deployed presence there.

As the nascent conflict matured, NATO countries realized that Kyiv’s government wasn’t going to quickly fall as had been anticipated, so aid and equipment began pouring into Ukraine. While the country’s experienced units slugged it out with Russia, Kyiv’s fresher, inexperienced troops needed to quickly get up to speed.

Enter Bolin, yet again. After handing the reins in Romania to the 101st Airborne Division and returning to Germany, the seasoned cavalry scout transferred from the 2nd Cavalry headquarters to become the operations sergeant major for its 2nd Squadron.

Soon he received a new mission. The squadron was to train Ukrainian troops. Bolin said his four combat deployments and experience as a drill sergeant were essential for designing the training plans, which were tailored for the largely novice troops that Ukraine had sent.

“The soldiers were 100% on board…and we had a lot of support to make these training events happen,” he said. “I looked at my first sergeants and every single one of them had a face of confidence — most of them were former drill sergeants [and] a couple Ranger Battalion guys.”

As Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive plays out in the country’s east, Bolin is holding his breath. He agreed that watching his former trainees put their skills into use evokes “complex” feelings.

Master Sgt. Justin Bolin, third from right, joins seven of his colleagues from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in an undated photo. (Courtesy of Justin Bolin)

“People not in the know, they turn on the news and they see blips on screens, and they see soldiers pushing back against the Russian aggression,” he explained. “For a lot of us in the [training] circle … these are husbands, fathers, wives, farmers, mechanics — these aren’t your typical soldier that we think of. These are people who want a home to come home to so that way they can raise their family.”

Bolin said the Ukrainians’ determination echoed what he saw in Americans after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “Everyone was on the same page for the same cause,” he recalled.

He joined the Army a few years afterward in 2004 and quickly learned the meaning of quality training and leadership when he deployed to Baghdad with 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment immediately after graduating from training in 2005. There Bolin received an Army Commendation Medal with valor device for his response to an IED strike that killed two of his mentors.

Master Sgt. Justin Bolin said watching his former Ukrainian trainees put their skills into use evokes complex feelings. (Army)

That day and other challenges in his career, Bolin explained, have made him passionate about fostering community among veterans who sometimes just need an understanding ear. He volunteered to coordinate a Thanksgiving event in Germany, and also volunteered with the Vilseck High School Junior ROTC program.

See all Military Times’ 2023 Service Members of the Year honorees.

<![CDATA[This Marine took reins of air traffic control during Kabul evacuation]]>https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-marine-corps/2023/07/09/this-marine-took-reins-of-air-traffic-control-during-kabul-evacuation/https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-marine-corps/2023/07/09/this-marine-took-reins-of-air-traffic-control-during-kabul-evacuation/Sun, 09 Jul 2023 13:54:20 +0000Master Sgt. Kevin Haunschild thought his 2021 deployment with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit would be a typical one.

A seasoned air traffic controller who previously had deployed to Afghanistan in 2014, he was the senior enlisted Marine for the group of controllers in the unit.

But then he and other Marines from the unit flew into Kabul for what would become the largest noncombatant evacuation in military history.

As civilian air traffic controllers departed the airport, it was up to Haunschild and his team of Marines — and, as time went on, some airmen as well — to coordinate the arrivals and departures of aircraft, many of which carried evacuees.

And they succeeded, handling about 110 flights per day with no aircraft mishaps.

In January, Haunschild received a Bronze Star for his efforts coordinating air traffic — and for his quick thinking and leadership in rescuing a civilian contractor.

At first, only four Marines from the air control detachment arrived in Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 13, 2021. Two days later, the Taliban took over the city, plunging the airport into chaos.

That day, an Afghan plane with a blown tire had to abort its takeoff, obstructing the runway, according to a news release announcing his Bronze Star.

Along with three other service members, Haunshchild jumped into a pickup truck while Afghans were running out of the aircraft. They attached straps to the plane and towed it off the runway.

Later that day, Haunschild had to rescue an Afghan air traffic controller who was stranded with important radio equipment in a crowd of people that included both Afghans desperate to flee and some members of the Taliban.

Haunschild and a soldier wove their way through the crowd, bringing body armor to the civilian and taking him back to their truck.

On the drive back, their truck was sprayed with small-arms fire. Because it was from an unknown source in a crowd filled with civilians, Haunschild said, they couldn’t return fire.

But they managed to drive the civilian and his radio equipment to safety.

Lt. Col. Robert Barbaree III, left, commanding officer of Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station New River, pins a Bronze Star onto Master Sgt. Kevin Haunschild on Jan. 20. Haunschild received the medal for his actions as Marine air traffic control mobile team leader with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162 in Afghanistan. (Cpl. Antonino Mazzamuto/Marine Corps)

Over the coming days, Haunschild and the other Marines from his detachment monitored the skies nonstop, except for occasional short naps. Those first two nights, they came under gunfire multiple times, Haunschild recalled.

Once 10 more troops from Marine Air Control Group-28 flew in on Aug. 17, 2021, the Marine air traffic controllers worked, with just a tailgate-style tent to protect them from the sun, in 12-hour shifts.

“That’s a long time to control aircraft, especially with the amount of aircraft that was coming in and out of the airport,” Capt. Zackary Dahl, the officer in charge of the element, previously told Marine Corps Times.

In interviews with Marine Corps Times, Haunschild was humble about his own accomplishments and extremely proud of his Marines’ work.

Master Sgt. Kevin Haunschild is now the senior air traffic controller at Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron on Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C. (Marine Corps)

The evacuation of Kabul remains controversial as a matter of strategy and policy. But Haunschild stressed his appreciation for the work the individual Marines and other U.S. troops did on the ground.

“They did a phenomenal job for what they had to work with,” he said.

U.S. troops in Kabul led an evacuation of more than 124,000 at-risk Afghans and ­U.S. citizens. Although the Air Force spearheaded the effort, more than 2,000 Marines were also involved on the ground, Marine Corps Times previously reported.

A Texas native, Haunschild enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2004. He had tried college, but it didn’t work out, and the Marine Corps was something he had always wanted to do, he told Marine Corps Times.

Haunschild is the senior air traffic controller at Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, according to service-record information provided by Marine spokeswoman 2nd Lt. Haley Pratt.

Apart from his Bronze Star, the master sergeant has received the Meritorious Service Medal; the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal; the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, twice; the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, six times; the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, twice; the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, five times; the Navy Arctic Service Ribbon; the Humanitarian Service Medal, three times; the Korea Defense Service Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; the National Defense Service Medal; the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, twice; the NATO Medal-Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan; a letter of appreciation, seven times; the NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan; and a Certificate of Commendation, once for his unit and once for him individually.

“Master Sgt. Haunschild doesn’t give himself credit for the things that he does, because he is a super cool dude,” said Gunnery Sgt. Julio JoseMendez, another air traffic controller who deployed to Kabul in 2021. “He doesn’t take any bulls--t, he’ll tell you things how they are. He’s just a Texas boy, and he loves a simple life.”

Staff Sgt. Ian Chryst, another of the Marine air traffic controllers who was on Haunschild’s team, said in the news release about the Bronze Star that the master sergeant was a great mentor and selfless leader.

“He could lead me into a burning pit and I’d follow him right in,” he said.

See all Military Times’ 2023 Service Members of the Year honorees.

<![CDATA[Whidbey Island rescue aircrewman puts his life on the line for others]]>https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-navy/2023/07/09/whidbey-island-rescue-aircrewman-puts-his-life-on-the-line-for-others/https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-navy/2023/07/09/whidbey-island-rescue-aircrewman-puts-his-life-on-the-line-for-others/Sun, 09 Jul 2023 13:49:07 +0000The life of a sailor assigned to the elite Whidbey Island Search and Rescue, or SAR, unit at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, is one defined by unpredictability.

After joining the Navy in 2016, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Anthony Anglikowski soon realized he wanted to be a part of that life.

This elite crew of two MH-60S Seahawk helicopters, 10 pilots, three search and rescue medical technicians and 10 rescue aircrewman respond to rescue needs throughout the wilds of western Washington state and beyond.

And when the call goes out, their 15- or 30-minute alert posture means they can be airborne and on the way fast.

But SAR life is not like a movie. It’s a dangerous job that requires regular improvisation to rescue stranded or injured hikers across the vast Pacific Northwest wilderness, or to respond to plane crashes or sea mishaps.

And sometimes, despite the most valiant efforts, not everyone makes it home.

But the individuals they save, and their family members, know those efforts matter.

Anglikowski, 28, a SAR medical technician and helicopter inland rescue aircrewman, learned this lesson firsthand when a call for help came in on May 23, 2021.

It would be the most intricate and technically challenging rescue mission Anglikowski had ever encountered, and one for which he would later receive the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the service’s highest award for noncombat heroism.

”HM2 Anglikowski epitomizes the very best in terms of his technical skills as well as his servant leadership approach to all he does,” Capt. Juliann Althoff, the commanding officer of his unit, Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Oak Harbor, said in a statement. “His valued contributions to our team are a testament to his profound work ethic and dedication to community service.”

Capt. Eric Hanks, right, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., presents the Navy and Marine Corps Medal to HM2 Anthony Anglikowski. With them is Capt Juliann Althoff, left, commanding officer of Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Oak Harbor. (Navy)

That day, Anglikowski and his comrades got a call about two hikers who had gotten into trouble while descending a challenging mountain formation known as “The Brothers” on the Olympic peninsula.

Anglikowski and his crew never know what to expect when such calls go out, but they are soon airborne.

“When we got there, the weather was the biggest thing holding us back,” he recalled recently. “There’s a significant cloud layer and quite a bit of terrain to navigate.”

The SAR team ended up orbiting for about 30 minutes until they could find a cloud hole for their descent.

Eyes peeled in the helicopter, Anglikowski and his comrades began inching up the valley.

They eventually found some good Samaritan hikers surrounding an injured man they had placed on a rock slab along an icy slope that Anglikowski remembered sitting at a steep 50 degrees.

Anglikowski and his partner descended to the icepack and made their way to the injured man.

“(The man) told us that himself and his girlfriend had summited the mountain early in the morning,” Anglikowski said.

They were on their way down when either one or both of them tripped.

“The terrain was a V-shape and ended up pulling them together where they kind of bounced off each other,” Anglikowski said. “He saw his partner then slip down into this hole.”

The hiker and the passersby had shined lights into the hole and shouted the woman’s name, but received no response.

Anglikowski said the icy hole was about two-feet by two-feet and descended about 40 feet down.

In there, a furious waterfall had formed as the mountain’s snowpack thawed in the spring weather, and he remembered the interior measuring about 60-feet wide.

The SAR team had gotten there about an hour after the woman’s fall. The male hiker was medically stable but hysterical, Anglikowski recalled.

Pacific Northwest search and rescue missions like the one Anglikowski embarked on that day are by nature a cooperative affair. Often, civilian authorities will call the Whidbey SAR crew when they are outgunned.

In this case, Anglikowski realized it was going to take a lot more than what he and his fellow sailor had on them to get the woman out of that crevasse.

They called in some colleagues from the local Jefferson County Search and Rescue team, and once on site, the rescuers jury-rigged a rope hoist system to bring the woman out of the depths.

The man was soon evacuated via the SAR helo, and Anglikowski and his team went to work.

As they built the rope hoist system, Anglikowski recalled how there weren’t many anchor points in the forbidding terrain.

Still, they built a two-rope system and lowered one of the county rescuers into the hole.

There, that rescuer found the woman deceased and in the water.

The combined crew tried to hoist her out of the hole.

“On the way up, she ended up getting lodged under a rock ledge,” Anglikowski recalled. “So, I hooked into the rope and got lowered down into the waterfall.”

Down in those confines, Anglikowski used his own body to get behind the woman and get her unstuck from the rock ledge.

She was pulled up and the sailor soon followed.

They then waited on the steep terrain for the helicopter to get a cloud opening and retrieve them all.

Before enlisting, HM2 Anthony Anglikowski was a paramedic and firefighter back home in Erie, Pa.

“At significant personal risk, Anglikowski and one of the Jefferson County members rappelled into the crevasse,” the Navy said when announcing the the medal for his bravery and ingenuity.

Not every rescue has a happy ending, and Anglikowski indicated he is at peace with not being able to save everyone.

“It wasn’t the ideal ending that everybody wanted, but we received some thank yous from the victim’s family for at least recovering her from the mountain and not leaving her out there,” he said.

Unfortunately, death is sometimes part of the job, he said.

“It is an expectation, and we do stay busy here,” Anglikowski said. “People know it’s a possibility. Some people end up dealing with more than others. But it’s just something that you lean on your team for and cope with in your own, hopefully healthy, way.”

Before enlisting, Anglikowski was a paramedic and firefighter back home in Erie, Pennsylvania.

But Whidbey SAR has been a whole other beast, he said.

“Training that the Navy provides gets you to the bare minimum to operate here,” Anglikowski said. “But the experience is really what makes you a good provider and a good rescuer.”

Even on the hard days, Anglikowski said he loves the job and the variety it entails.

“Most every day is something different,” he said. “We get to see incredible parts of Washington that people don’t often set foot in, let alone lay eyes on.”

Being able to assist civilian counterparts and help the outdoor community has also been gratifying, he added.

“It’s very rewarding to be able to provide that service and that capability to the community, especially the backcountry outdoor adventure community,” Anglikowski said. “Most of us are an avid part of that, so it’s nice to be able to give back to the people that we share those spaces with.”

See all Military Times’ 2023 Service Members of the Year honorees.

<![CDATA[Coast Guard cutter commander lauded for mentorship, team building]]>https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-navy/2023/07/09/coast-guard-cutter-commander-lauded-for-mentorship-team-building/https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-navy/2023/07/09/coast-guard-cutter-commander-lauded-for-mentorship-team-building/Sun, 09 Jul 2023 13:43:35 +0000Lt. Chelsea Sheehy remembers exactly what one of her mentors at the Coast Guard Academy told her in 2010: “The greatest things in life don’t come easy.”

Back then, Sheehy was a cadet struggling to get through an engineering class. Now, she has just wrapped up a tour as the commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Charles Sexton out of Key West, Florida.

Sheehy, the Military Times’ 2023 Coast Guardsman of the Year, said she shares the advice she received with all those she now guides.

“Because I had really good mentors, it has, I suppose, made me a good mentor,” Sheehy told Military Times.

Those who work with Sheehy describe her as an inspiration to crew members and say she has fostered a culture of trust and teamwork aboard the Sexton, which boasts a crew of 23 members.

Cmdr. Rick Armstrong, deputy commander of Coast Guard Sector Key West, described her as “squarely on track to be one of the service’s brightest future leaders.”

“Simply put, she is my best commanding officer,” said Armstrong, who nominated Sheehy for the honor.

“She puts the needs of her crew first, doggedly working to ensure they have the training and resources to develop themselves and achieve their personal and professional goals,” Armstrong wrote. “She continually teaches and mentors others both on and off her ship, helping those around her achieve their qualification goals, career aspirations and personal achievements.”

Sheehy, who previously served as executive officer of the cutter Galveston Island in Honolulu, Hawaii, is the only female commanding officer of the six fast-response cutters based in Key West.

Lt. Chelsea Sheehy, left, commanding officer of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Charles Sexton, and Lt. j.g. Christine McCulla, the cutter's executive officer, observe mooring operations in Key West, Fla,, in August 2022. (Lt. Christopher Papas/Coast Guard)

“It has been the most rewarding job of my career,” she said, “and I don’t think there could be something better than this.

“My biggest role in the job is being an advocate for the crew,” Sheehy said. “I’m recounting how just about every person on the crew is either promoting, advancing or ready to promote or advance. We have folks who are getting awards, I have folks who are wanting to stay afloat — and it’s hard to keep people afloat sometimes. … It’s just been very rewarding to be a part of that process, and then help someone be a part of that process.”

The Sexton is responsible for patrolling the Caribbean Sea to halt illicit trafficking, as well as coordinating interdiction efforts and repatriation of migrants at sea. Sheehy’s team has interdicted, cared for and processed more than 2,500 migrants, to include rescuing migrants from a capsized vessel off the coast of Key West last May. They have also repatriated 1,021 migrants to their country of origin.

“While they’re on our cutter, we provide food, water and other assistance as best we can to the scope of our practice,” Sheehy said.

“The migrant mission, it’s a hard mission,” she added. “It’s moms, babies and dads with their small children, too. So, there is an empathetic side to this mission as well that is draining for the average person.”

Sheehy said she usually checks in with her crew after these migrant missions to gauge their mental and emotional state, since many also have children of similar ages.

During U.S. Southern Command’s Continuing Promise 2022 mission in response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Haiti, Sheehy served as the senior U.S. Coast Guard representative coordinating response operations aboard the USNS hospital ship Comfort. Medical personnel treated more than 1,000 patients while in Haiti, and the experience provided Sheehy an opportunity to collaborate with other branches of the military as part of a joint operation.

“We were all tasked with one operation and our ultimate goal was this mission success,” Sheehy said. “So, that cohesiveness, that teamwork is something that I will take away from it.”

Lt. Chelsea Sheehy, who has been tapped for promotion to lieutenant commander, is now serving as a duty officer in the White House Situation Room, where she will monitor national security issues. (Coast Guard)

Sheehy was tapped to promote to lieutenant commander above the zone in 2023 — meaning she will advance a year before her peers.

Her next assignment is serving as a duty officer in the White House Situation Room, where she will monitor national security issues and field phone calls and correspondence that comes through there.

“I knew that this job was a really unique opportunity — a great learning experience,” she said.

She is no stranger to Washington, having previously served as a congressional fellow for Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, and she said that experience on Capitol Hill led her to apply for the job. Additionally, she is pursuing a master of arts in national security studies with a concentration in homeland security from American Military University.

As a leader, Sheehy said it’s most important to prioritize your people.

“Remembering that your people always have to come first — that is a good sign of leadership, right?” she said. “The mission will always get done. We’re always going to get the metrics. We’re always going to get that, and we’re going to be good at it because we’re putting the people first.”

See all Military Times’ 2023 Service Members of the Year honorees.

Lt. Christopher Papas
<![CDATA[Air Guard nurse walked alongside Taliban to rescue patients from Kabul]]>https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-air-force/2023/07/09/air-guard-nurse-walked-alongside-taliban-to-rescue-patients-from-kabul/https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-air-force/2023/07/09/air-guard-nurse-walked-alongside-taliban-to-rescue-patients-from-kabul/Sun, 09 Jul 2023 13:38:49 +0000A man who began hemorrhaging blood in midair after surgery.

An infant whose veins wouldn’t hold an adult-sized IV.

A woman with a precarious spinal cord injury.

Capt. Katie Lunning saved them all.

Her calm and skill under pressure that ensured 22 patients survived the suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan — and more than a dozen others in the days before — has earned Lunning, now a major, Military Times’ 2023 Airman of the Year award.

U.S. Air Force airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron prepare their equipment on a C-17 Globemaster III over the skies of U.S. Central Command, Aug. 26, 2021. (Courtesy of Katie Lunning)

Lunning, 40, of Urbandale, Iowa, is the chief critical care nurse at the Minnesota Air National Guard’s 133rd Medical Group, and the intensive care unit nurse manager at the Iowa Department of Veteran Affairs.

The daughter of an Army veteran, Lunning enlisted in the Guard in 2002 to help pay for college and support the local communities where she was raised. She alternated between jobs in Air Force health service management and Army recruiting, and rose to the rank of staff sergeant in the Army Guard.

Then, Lunning set off on the same path as the nurses in her family before her. She returned to her health care job in the Air Guard in 2009, earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Bethel University in 2012, and was commissioned as an officer in 2013.

Her time as a nurse in the National Guard and in VA-run hospitals prepared Lunning for the emergency she would face nearly 10 years later, several thousand miles from home.

In June 2021, Lunning got the chance to deploy as a critical care air transport nurse with the 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

Three-person CCAT teams act as flying ICU staffs for ill and wounded troops around the world, ferrying service members from field hospitals to larger medical facilities for further treatment.

Lunning saw it as a chance to learn firsthand how those teams work in the field, with a squadron that is typically far removed from the front lines of war. And at first, it was.

The Air Force's critical care air transport team that responded to the Aug. 26, 2021, suicide bombing at the Kabul airport's Abbey Gate poses for a photo outside the 379th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron headquarters at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (Courtesy of Katie Lunning)

She arrived at Al Udeid on July 17, 2021, and spent weeks on call but dispatched only once to help a sick Australian service member. Troops in Qatar believed the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan would last several more months.

But as town after town fell to the Taliban, the U.S. began evacuating the special immigrant visa holders, applicants and prospective applicants who had helped push for democracy there.

Then came word from Lunning’s leadership: The evacuation needed medical support.

Without knowing what lay ahead, two critical care teams devised a plan to shrink their enormous arsenal of ventilators, monitors, intravenous pumps and other equipment into a tiny footprint so that each C-17 cargo plane could bring on more passengers.

The group was also down two people, after one nurse had fallen off a Peloton bike at Al Udeid and a respiratory therapist had returned to the U.S. due to a death in the family — leaving Lunning, two doctors and one respiratory specialist to handle every ICU flight out of a country in chaos.

Kabul fell to the Taliban on Aug. 15; Lunning’s team arrived at the capital’s Hamid Karzai International Airport three days later.

“Seeing the desperation of people, leaving everything that they have behind for a chance of an opportunity in a country with freedom — nothing could have prepared me for that,” Lunning said.

But she began doing what any nurse would: making her rounds.

Armed with only a Beretta M9 pistol, Lunning would push a stretcher from the runway to the airport gates, past the throngs of Afghans clamoring to board military jets to safety, down three city blocks as the Taliban proclaimed victory from the streets, until she reached the tiny international hospital where patients in critical condition awaited.

“We had a lot of people who had flash-bangs to the face, some gunshot wounds,” she said. “We had a little girl who had some sort of disability that required her to have a [tracheotomy tube] long-term … and quite a few pregnant people that were about to give birth.”

Air Force Capt. Katie Lunning, a critical care air transport team registered nurse with the 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, checks equipment on a C-17 Globemaster III in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 20, 2021. (Courtesy of Katie Lunning)

One pregnant woman arrived with dangerously high blood pressure and in distress after watching the Taliban kill her brother, Lunning said. The woman’s husband and daughter reminded the nurse of her own family in Iowa.

“I can’t imagine being in that situation … leaving the country where we’re from, flying off to who knows where,” she said.

With a stretcher-bound patient in tow, she would return to the plane, hand them off to the medical team, and head back to the hospital to collect another. Once the crew was ready to return to Qatar, the critical care team worked to keep the patients stable until they reached the next leg of their journey.

That rhythm — fly three-and-a-half hours to Kabul, pick up a few patients, fly back to Qatar, help treat evacuees at the aid station on base, and nab a few hours of sleep — continued for more than a week. Then the bomb hit.

On Aug. 26, 2021, Lunning was heading to bed after a 20-hour mission when her phone rang: Something had exploded in Kabul. Sleep had to wait.

On the way back to Afghanistan, this time with a full medical team, Lunning learned they would be airlifting Marines.

“It was a different feeling and a sense of urgency, knowing we’re getting out our people, and our people had been killed,” she said. “Very sobering.”

The Air Force's aeromedical evacuation and critical care air transport team members who responded to the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport's Abbey Gate on Aug. 26, 2021, pose for a photo before leaving Afghanistan. (Courtesy of Katie Lunning)

The Islamic State-linked suicide bombing killed 11 Marines, a soldier and a sailor, and wounded hundreds more troops and Afghan civilians.

The crowds that had mobbed Abbey Gate before were gone, replaced by distant gunfire and sirens. Lunning retraced her route to the frantic hospital and received her first patient: a severely injured 18-month-old baby, whose mother was killed holding him when the bomb went off.

She hurried the brain-damaged infant back to the jet and returned to the hospital, again and again and again. Next was an Afghan man with severe abdominal wounds; a female Marine with a spinal cord injury; a male Marine whose heart had stopped beating.

Getting the patients to the cargo plane was just the beginning of the journey. Lunning’s critical care team needed to keep them alive on the eight-hour flight to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the U.S. military’s premier hospital in Europe, with minimal medical equipment and staff and even less sleep.

“We’re all fighting being awake for like 40 hours,” she said. “We would hit walls from time to time. You try to help each other out, like, ‘Hey, I’ll take the vitals, you sit down for a minute or take a lap around the airplane.’”

Lunning said she polished off an entire 5-pound bag of Sour Patch Kids in a last-ditch attempt not to fall asleep.

The desperate measures worked: Three aeromedical evacuation missions moved 38 patients to higher care in less than 15 hours, recalled Capt. Kayleigh Migaleddi, another Air Force flight nurse, in a September 2022 op-ed.

Lunning’s team ferried 22 of them, including six critical care and 16 non-critical patients. All arrived alive.

When their work as a flying ICU was done, Lunning and her team left the hospital, found a Burger King, and collapsed onto the sidewalk with their sandwiches and fries — too exhausted to bother with the nearby picnic table. In all, she worked seven 20-hour missions from Aug. 18-29, 2021.

Capt. Katie Lunning and other Air Force medical personnel eat Burger King meals at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, following the aeromedical evacuation of victims of the suicide bombing at Kabul's airport on Aug. 26, 2021. (Courtesy of Katie Lunning)

She became the first flight nurse in the Air National Guard to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross, one of the military’s highest honors for courage in aviation, on Jan. 7.

Lunning is clear-eyed about the danger she and her wingmen were in that summer. But when she sees what the Marines who survived are doing now, and thinks about the Afghans she helped, she knows she was the right person, in the right place, at the right time.

“They’re not just living. A lot of them are thriving,” she said. “Everything we did was worth it.”

See all Military Times’ 2023 Service Members of the Year honorees.

<![CDATA[Space Force captain kept US Cabinet officials safe amid Europe crisis]]>https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-air-force/2023/07/09/space-force-captain-kept-us-cabinet-officials-safe-amid-europe-crisis/https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-air-force/2023/07/09/space-force-captain-kept-us-cabinet-officials-safe-amid-europe-crisis/Sun, 09 Jul 2023 13:34:14 +0000Early last year, as Russia mounted its all-out assault on Ukraine, the U.S. Space Force quietly built a shadowy electronic warfare enterprise in the remote European countryside to secure U.S. satellite networks.

That effort, led by Capt. Victoria Garcia, safeguarded the travel of two U.S. Cabinet secretaries to Kyiv, deployed a brand-new EW system for the first time and set a new standard for how the Space Force operates in far-flung parts of the world.

Garcia’s role in leading the first space EW deployment to Europe at the onset of the continent’s largest military crisis in over two decades earned her Military Times’ inaugural Guardian of the Year award.

Garcia, 37, of El Paso, Texas, is now a speechwriter at Space Operations Command, the Space Force branch in charge of organizing its combat units.

Garcia, a Mexican immigrant, rose through the Air Force’s enlisted ranks before earning her officer commission and transferring into the Space Force. The four-month deployment was a chance for her to do what she’d always dreamed of: lead troops in the field.

Her unit, the 4th Electromagnetic Warfare Squadron at Colorado’s Peterson Space Force Base, began hearing talk of a potential deployment to Europe in December 2021, as Russia was amassing hundreds of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s border.

What’s more, U.S. Space Command — the organization that directs Space Force troops in daily missions around the world — wanted to set up a new combat detachment from scratch, in an area where it hadn’t previously operated.

With Christmas around the corner, that task fell to Garcia.

As the squadron’s mission support director, she knew how to run the secretive hardware that stops enemies from interfering with U.S. and allied use of the electromagnetic spectrum. That keeps lines of satellite communications open, allows the U.S. to collect intelligence from space and ensures foreign adversaries don’t intercept classified information.

She also understood the massive logistical effort needed to operate those systems in the field, far from an established base like Peterson.

“What’s the security going to look like?” she said. “What type of radio frequency transmission support are we going to need for that system? What type of comms support, like plugging in computers, phones? … How are we going to get generator power to this location? How are we going to cool it?”

Garcia got the nod to serve as deployment commander and began building her team of intel specialists, equipment sherpas, cyber experts and more — 54 troops across 15 career fields. The 54-person team left for Europe on Feb. 2, less than two months after planning began in earnest.

The group first headed to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where they packed pallet after pallet of equipment onto five C-130 Hercules airlifters for the final leg of the journey to their undisclosed location. Their destination offered only a basic runway that couldn’t bear the weight of the larger cargo jets they’d typically use.

Capt. Victoria Garcia is now a speechwriter at Space Operations Command, the Space Force branch in charge of organizing its combat units. (Space Force)

Garcia and a few others arrived on site early to test a new, $2 million EW system, built by a rapid reaction team to speed cutting-edge technologies to the field for the first time. She declined to answer how the system differed from existing electronic warfare tools, or what gap in military capabilities it filled.

Over the course of 30 hours, the team turned two hardened, Soviet-era aircraft hangars — a 45-minute drive from where they lived on one of the host country’s military bases — into makeshift command centers fit for classified operations.

Wiring crisscrossed open fields; without the security afforded by a larger base, their hardware needed to be guarded around the clock. Garcia said she was aware of threats to the facilities but declined to provide details.

“It was ... kind of madness,” she said. “You have people directing [network] fiber, pulling cases and building the system. … We would have to drive out two to three miles into the larger town to go get larger pieces of wood and things like that.”

Once their stronghold was up and running, the unit tracked 84,000 “network events” over 3,000 hours in the field from February to May.

“We conducted a lot of passive operations,” Garcia said. “We had two systems at that site, which were about a mile apart, overseeing the electromagnetic spectrum in this area of this country.”

That April, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s three-day trip to Ukraine and Poland — their first since the war began — put the detachment’s capabilities to the test.

Being in Europe allowed the unit to watch and manipulate parts of the spectrum that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to, Garcia said. Those troops could intervene if they detected any electronic interference that could jeopardize the defense secretary’s safety, or disrupt his ability to communicate.

“If you think of it like an overwatch surveillance mission, we were there to answer the call … if things went south,” she said.

As part of the trip, Austin and Blinken announced a total of $713 million in foreign military financing for Ukraine and 15 allied and partner countries, cash that countries could use to purchase any needed supplies.

In their down time, the guardians would sprint around the flight line for “Sunday Fun-day Run-day,” barbecue and hitch rides on visiting U.S. Army helicopters.

In November, Garcia received one of the inaugural U.S. Space Force Polaris Awards for guardians at the field command level. She received the Polaris Courage Award as a representative of Space Operations Command.

Garcia has continued to follow the war in Ukraine and kept up with her old unit, now called the 44th Electromagnetic Warfare Combat Detachment, as it has expanded its mission. She’s found it difficult to disconnect from the venture to which she gave so much time and sweat.

“There’s a deep appreciation of what you do as a Space Force guardian, when you know the capabilities that you operate are feeding a joint fight,” she said. “You get the satisfaction of, ‘I’m truly part of something that is helping mankind.’”

See all Military Times’ 2023 Service Members of the Year honorees.

<![CDATA[Army retiree powerfully impacts veterans and his community]]>https://www.armytimes.com/smr/smoy/2023/07/09/army-retiree-powerfully-impacts-veterans-and-his-community/https://www.armytimes.com/smr/smoy/2023/07/09/army-retiree-powerfully-impacts-veterans-and-his-community/Sun, 09 Jul 2023 13:30:09 +0000Becoming the owner of a basketball franchise was never part of Lindsey Streeter’s post-military career goals. But it fit in nicely with his game plan for life.

“I like to make big-splash plays, I like to try to do things that will be impactful,” said Streeter, who served 31 years in the Army. “And I like to involve others so that I can turn around and give the credit to the whole team, share the glory of whatever comes.

For this veteran, owning a basketball team is about more than filling a stadium. “It’s about making the community believe it’s their actual team, and they’re part of the effort too,” he said.

Streeter, the recipient of the 2023 Veteran of the Year Award from Military Times, was already an all-star in the community outreach game before his latest professional sports venture.

Since 2016, he has handled veterans programs for Bank of America, and currently acts as the company’s Senior Vice President of Global Military Affairs. The role has given him a major platform as a voice for hiring and supporting veterans in the workforce, and using military experience to improve the corporate world. He also serves as Georgia’s ambassador for the U.S. Army Reserve, lobbying on service member quality of life issues.

When his wife, Mary Ann, passed away in 2020, he took over leadership of her nonprofit, Quad E, which provides preventive health care options to vulnerable individuals. On Sundays, he serves as a deacon at his local church.

And last year, Streeter became owner of the Savannah Hurricanes of the Triple Threat Basketball League, not to live out unfulfilled athletic dreams but because he saw an opportunity to use the platform to help out in the Georgia community he now calls home.

Lindsey Streeter is the owner of the Savannah Hurricanes of the Triple Threat Basketball League. (Courtesy of Lindsey Streeter via Facebook)

Along with the normal tasks of promoting an upstart sports league, Streeter has put extra emphasis on youth outreach programs across Savannah, with training camps and school visits a staple of the team’s schedule.

“All the different jobs and roles feel like a lot, but it’s really just one agenda,” Streeter said in a phone interview conducted from his car in-between a charity appearance and a corporate meeting. “We’re looking at building partnerships, we’re looking at ways we can help the community as a whole. And we stay focused on those goals.

“And because I’m getting after so much purpose, it really doesn’t feel like it’s extra work. The energy is there because the passion fuels that, and getting to see the impact of the work just keeps me going.”

Service and citizenship have always been a part of Streeter’s life, even before he joined the military. He remembers as a young child in Washington, D.C., growing up in a poor family but still taking part in charity efforts for local institutions. He said his mother instilled the idea of giving back to the community, even when they had little of their own to spare.

In the Army, Streeter served several stints as a recruiter before taking over as a battalion command sergeant major and later as commandant of the Non-Commissioned Officers Academy. In all the jobs, he was reminded of the responsibility he had to help build up young soldiers and grow them into future leaders.

“I have a personal mission statement that says I’m going to use my time, my talents and my resources to impact others in a meaningful way,” he said. “And it says that my reputation precedes me, and so I’ve got to live my life in a purposeful manner that keeps me focused on that.”

When Streeter left the service in 2016, he wanted to continue those connections to the community and the military. The new civilian job with Bank of America gave him both.

“I have a personal mission statement that says I’m going to use my time, my talents and my resources to impact others in a meaningful way,” Lindsey Streeter said. (Courtesy of Lindsey Streeter via Facebook)

“They asked me to ensure that the veteran culture there was right,” he said. “Our goal was not just to make the company veteran-friendly, but veteran-ready. And through our changes and example, we’ve been able to affect other organizations and help shape their culture by giving them things to emulate.”

Those veteran hiring efforts have even extended to the basketball team: The Hurricanes’ coach and general manager are also retired non-commissioned officers.

Streeter said he is conscious that for many individuals in the groups he works with — especially the young basketball players whose whole lives have revolved around sports — he is often the first or most prominent veteran they have known. He says that puts even more pressure on him to make sure he is reflecting that personal pledge of service and integrity.

“I don’t typically lead with my veteran status when folks in the community meet me, but I think it becomes apparent once they hear me talk and start running the show,” he said. “So, I’m always keeping in mind that I am an ambassador for the community. And I want to give credit to the Army for what they did for me, to help me become who I am today.”

Streeter was named CEO of the year for the Triple Threat Basketball League this season, and his Savannah Hurricanes made the playoffs. But he says the biggest wins so far have been the wide-eyes of the local kids he’s watched interacting with team members, and the community partners who said they’re looking forward to future work with the franchise.

“To the onlooker, the team is filling up a gym and they’re playing good basketball,” he said. “They care about winning on the court. But I care about winning in the community.”

See all Military Times’ 2023 Service Members of the Year honorees.

<![CDATA[On Memorial Day, Biden lauds fallen troops who ‘dared all, gave all’]]>https://www.armytimes.com/military-honor/2023/05/29/on-memorial-day-biden-lauds-fallen-troops-who-dared-all-gave-all/https://www.armytimes.com/military-honor/2023/05/29/on-memorial-day-biden-lauds-fallen-troops-who-dared-all-gave-all/Mon, 29 May 2023 20:02:07 +0000President Joe Biden lauded the sacrifice of generations of U.S. troops who “dared all and gave all” fighting for their country and called on Americans to ensure that their “sacrifice was not in vain” as he marked Memorial Day with the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

Biden was joined by first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Harris’ husband, Douglas Emhoff, for the 155th National Memorial Day Observance. He had a moment of contemplation in front of the wreath, which was adorned with flowers and a red, white and blue bow, and then bowed his head in prayer.

At the heart of Memorial Day, an appreciation of duty to one’s country

“We must never forget the price that was paid to protect our democracy,” Biden said later in an address at the Memorial Amphitheater. “We must never forget the lives these flags, flowers and marble markers represent.”

“Every year we remember,” he said. “And every year it never gets easier.”

Avery Carlin of Arlington, Va., rests by the headstone of her uncle, Army Cpl. Michael Avery Pursel, as she visits Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery with her family on Memorial Day, May 29. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Biden has taken pride that his administration has overseen a time of relative peace for the U.S. military after two decades of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It’s been nearly 21 months since Biden ended the United States’ longest war in Afghanistan, making good on a campaign promise to end a 20-year-old “forever war” that cost the lives of more than 2,400 U.S. service members. The war, however, ended in chaotic and deadly fashion on Biden’s watch in August 2021.

The U.S. now finds itself leading a coalition of allies pouring tens of billions of dollars in military and economic aid into Ukraine as it tries to repel the Russian invasion, which appears to have no end in sight.

President Joe Biden holds his hand on his heart as he stands with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley during the playing of

While making clear that he has no desire for U.S. troops to enter the conflict, Biden has maintained that he sees the Russian effort to grab territory as an affront to international norms and has vowed to help Kyiv win, sending artillery, tanks and drones and recently agreeing to allow allies to train Ukrainian military on American F-16 jets.

Biden connected the sacrifices of some 400,000 Americans buried at Arlington to the work of U.S. troops deployed around the world today, saying the impact of the fallen men and women “goes far beyond those silent stones” of the solemn burial ground.

‘Snapshot of their memories:’ Gold Star widow reflects on Memorial Day

“We see the strength of our NATO alliance built from the bonds that were forged in the fires of two World Wars,” Biden said. “We see it in the troops still standing sentinel on the Korean Peninsula, preserving the peace side by side with allies. We see it in every base, every barrack, every vessel around the globe where our military proudly serves and stands as a force for good in the world.”

Raphael Michel, 7, of Washington, visits the grave of a soldier, with whom his father served, in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 29. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

During the Arlington ceremony, Biden also spoke of the need to care for U.S. service members on and off the battlefield.

“We have only one truly sacred obligation: to prepare those we send into harm’s way and care for them and their families when they come home and when they don’t,” Biden said.

Memorial Day is for those we’ve lost, on the battlefield and at home

The president noted legislation he had signed expanding federal health care services for millions of veterans who served at military bases where toxic smoke billowed from huge burn pits, commonly used by the military until several years ago to dispose of chemicals, tires, plastics and medical and human waste.

Before Monday’s ceremony at the Arlington, Virginia, cemetery, the Bidens hosted a breakfast at the White House for members of veterans organizations, military service and family organizations, surviving families of fallen U.S. troops, senior Department of Defense officials and other administration officials.

The president and the first lady were scheduled to return to their home near Wilmington, Delaware, later Monday to spend the rest of the federal holiday.

Krista Meinert touches the headstone of her son in Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day. Marine Lance Cpl. Jacob Alexander Meinert, of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, was with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, when he stepped on a landmine in Helmand  province, Afghanistan, Jan. 10, 2010. (Alex Brandon/AP)]]>
Susan Walsh
<![CDATA[Army special operations community concludes first-ever Heritage Week]]>https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2023/04/21/army-special-operations-community-concludes-first-ever-heritage-week/https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2023/04/21/army-special-operations-community-concludes-first-ever-heritage-week/Fri, 21 Apr 2023 14:55:21 +0000Thirteen veterans and civilians were named as distinguished and honorary members Thursday to the regiments of the Special Forces, Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs community.

The inductees were honored during a ceremony that coincides with the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School’s Heritage Week to celebrate decades of training and education in Army special operation forces.

The first-ever Heritage Week marks the 71st anniversary of the Army Special Forces school and center and coincides with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Army Training and Doctrine Command.

“Our close coordinating relationship with TRADOC is vital to ensuring Special Operations Forces remain aligned with the Army as we work to deliver the critical multi-domain capabilities for 2030,” Brig. Gen. Guillaume “Will” Beaurpere, Commander, U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center School told Army Times in an email statement.

For a half-century the center and school trained generations of soldiers in irregular warfare, advanced special operations leader development and education for the total Army, Beaurpere wrote.

“We are extremely proud to be part of a TRADOC enterprise that generates the Army for the challenges of tomorrow,” he said.

Among the inductees is a Medal of Honor recipient, a former acting secretary of defense and ambassadors.

Inside the ongoing 'evolution' of Army special operations

Each of the inductees has contributed to the legacy and history of their respective regiments and the nation in and out of uniform, Beaurpere said.

“The stories of physical and intellectual capabilities and adaptability of our inductees remind us that once we set our minds to an objective and a mission and commit our energies, there is very little we as Americans can not accomplish,” Beaurpere said.

The Regimental Honors program began in 1981, covered in updated Army Regulation 870-21 to replace the Combat Arms Regimental System, which dated to the late 1950s, Roxanne M. Merritt, director of the JFK School’s Heritage Center and museum, told Army Times in an email response.

The majority of inductees are retired. If on active duty status, they were either killed in action or died prematurely while serving. Nominations come from a variety of organizations, persons, or individual commands. Inductees are honored in the local ceremony and, in some cases, a medallion, Merritt wrote.

A short biography, photo and description of contributions outside of military service are included on the Regimental Hall of Fame in Clay Hall at the school/center and also on digital kiosks throughout the campus.

There have been more than 225 inductees to the Regimental Honors program since 1981. Inductees are honored by their respective regiments - Psychological Operations, Civil Affairs and Special Forces.

School spokesman Army Maj. Rick Dickson told Army Times that the first Heritage Week saw members of the three regiment communities across generations converge on Fort Bragg for a series of events that included a chapel rededication, physical training session, a formal dinner and the induction ceremony among other events.

“This Heritage Week is really focused on looking at the past and remembering our history as we try to move forward into the future,” Dickson told Army Times in a phone interview. “American irregular warfare and unconventinal warfare tactics trace back all the way to the American Revolutionary War.”

As the service looks to the Special Operations Force of 2030, Dickson said that history is important.

“We’re trying to take that history and lessons learn and move it into the future,” Dickson said.

Psychological Operations

Retired Col. Rick Springett served in multiple roles within the psychological operations regiment including in the U.S. Special Operations Command.

As chief of the Military Information Support Operations Branch, he was responsible for four trans-regional programs supporting the geographic combatant commands and theatre special operations commands. The programs included strategic military information support operations “directed against Al Qaida, their affiliates, and violent extremism.”

Retired Col. Rick Springett was one of the 2023 Regimental Honors inductees during and Heritage Week held at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in late April. (Army)

Between 2004 to 2008, Springett worked with others to establish policies and procedures for the initial assessment of psychological operations and civil affairs officers.

After his retirement in 2014, Springett was a senior civilian plans analyst under SOCOM’s Sensitive Activities Division until 2021, deploying to Afghanistan and Southwest Asia in the role.

First Lt. Daniel J. Edelman entered the Army as a public relations specialist during World War II under the 5th Mobile Radio Broadcasting Co., 100th Infantry Division.

His time at the Office of War Information “allowed him to counter German propaganda and disinformation” through publishing “Der Speigel,” a German magazine, and polling Germans to determine their attitudes toward the occupation and the Nuremberg Trials.

First Lt. Daniel J. Edelman was one of the 2023 Regimental Honors inductees during and Heritage Week held at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in late April. (Army)

Edelman founded his own public relations firm in 1952, which counts a campaign to increase support for the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in its portfolio. Edelman dedicated his time to nonprofits like the American Red Cross and Save the Children until his death in 2013.

Special Forces

Maj. John J. Duffy was presented the Medal of Honor on July 5, by President Joe Biden for his 1972 actions in Vietnam.

According to Duffy’s citation, he served as a senior enlisted advisor to the 11th Airborne Battalion, 2d Brigade, Airborne Division. After his commander was killed during an attack that wounded Duffy twice, Duffy refused to be evacuated.

Duffy directed defense around a support base on April 14, 1972, and moved close to enemy positions to call in airstrikes, becoming wounded again.

After the enemy attacked the base, Duffy ensured wounded friendly foreign soldiers were moved to safety and maintained his position during indirect enemy fire. He was the last man to leave the base during a withdrawal.

Maj. John J. Duffy was one of the 2023 Regimental Honors inductees during and Heritage Week held at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in late April. (Army)

When the acting battalion commander was wounded, he assumed command of the evacuation and maintained communication with the available air support to direct fire on the enemy.

The following morning, Duffy organized defensive positions when the enemy ambushed the battalion and led the wounded to an evacuation area.

Retired Maj. Gen. David A. Morris was a charter member of Charlie Company, 3d Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group Combatant Commanders, which is now known as the Critical Threats Advisory Co.

During his career, he conducted foreign internal defense in support of the El Salvadorian government during two tours and received presidential approval for his recommendation to overcome the insurgents’ advantage.

Near the end of his first decade of service, Morris was selected to assume responsibility for Phase I training of the Special Forces Qualification Course at Camp Mackall.

Retired Maj. Gen. David A. Morris was one of the 2023 Regimental Honors inductees during and Heritage Week held at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in late April. (Army)

His career included developing a program with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to use artificial intelligence to guide the mission planning of U.S. special operations forces and helped develop a program that later became the Defense Threat Database System.

In 1989, he wrote a paper that provided support to special operations forces during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell approved Morris’ classified plan for creating the Army Special Mission Unit.

In retirement, he has served as chairman of the Green Beret Foundation and serves with veteran nonprofit organizations.

Retired Col. Ronald D. Johnson enlisted in the National Guard in 1971 and graduated from the Special Forces Officers Course in 1977, while assigned to the 20th Special Forces Group. In 1984, he entered active-duty service as the detachment commander with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group in Panama.

He would serve in a wide variety of roles, including being selected as the first Special Forces officer to attend the Army War College fellowship at the Central Intelligence Agency.

Johnson spent most of his military career in the Southern Command Area of Responsibility and led combat operations in El Salvador as one of the authorized 55 military advisors during the civil war there in the 1980s.

Retired Col. Ronald D. Johnson was one of the 2023 Regimental Honors inductees during and Heritage Week held at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in late April. (Army)

He also deployed to the Balkans in the 1990s as the senior military officer of an integrated team made up of members of the CIA, National Security Agency and Special Mission Unit to apprehend people indicted for war crimes.

After leaving military service, Johnson worked with the CIA and participated in worldwide operational and combat experiences with special mission units. He also served as the senior representative for directors of National Intelligence and the CIA at the U.S. Southern Command and as the science and technology liaison to the U.S. Special Operations Command for the Central Intelligence Agency.

In 2019, he was appointed and served as the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador until his retirement in 2021.

Retired Col. Christopher C. Miller served as an enlisted infantryman in the U.S. Army Reserves and as a military policeman in the Washington, D.C., National Guard during his 27 years of military service.

In 1993, he transferred to U.S. Army Special Forces, serving in numerous command and staff positions within the 5th Special Forces Group.

He is credited for being a “key player” during numerous worldwide deployments and contributing to the planning and participation of the 5th Special Forces Group’s initial combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Retired Col. Christopher C. Miller was one of the 2023 Regimental Honors inductees during and Heritage Week held at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in late April. (Army)

Miller served in numerous special operations organizations and as deputy commander of the Specialized Joint Unit, U.S. Special Operations Southern Command.

After retiring in 2014, he worked as a defense contractor, a special assistant to the president at the National Security Council, assistant secretary of defense for special operations low-intensity conflict and deputy assistant secretary of defense for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism.

Miller served as the acting secretary of defense from Nov. 9, 2020, to Jan. 20, 2021.

Retired Col. Mark E. Mitchell commissioned in 1987 as an infantry officer and served in the 24th Infantry Division, including in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

He graduated from the Special Forces qualification course in 1993 and served as a detachment commander, company commander, battalion operations officer, and battalion commander with the 5th Special Forces Group during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Mitchell spent a significant portion of his military career in the Central Command Area of Responsibility, leading combat operations in Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Retired Col. Mark E. Mitchell was one of the 2023 Regimental Honors inductees during and Heritage Week held at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in late April. (Army)

He was director of plans at the U.S. Special Operations Command Central; director of operations for the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Arabian Peninsula and was also the commander of the 5th Special Forces Group and Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force at the Arabian Peninsula.

He has also served as director for Counterterrorism on the National Security Council and after his military retirement, served as principal deputy and acting assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict.

Retired Lt. Col. Roger D. Carstens commanded a platoon in the 75th Rangers, including a combat jump into Panama during Operation Just Cause.

He graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course in 1991 and was a detachment commander and company executive officer and battalion executive officer with the 10th Special Forces Group in Germany.

He’s also commanded Company A, 4th Battalion and Company F, 1st Battalion under the 1st Special Warfare Training Group, training soldiers in unconventional warfare skills including the final Robin Sage exercise.

Retired Lt. Col. Roger D. Carstens was one of the 2023 Regimental Honors inductees during and Heritage Week held at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in late April. (Army)

Carstens served as legislative liaison for U.S. Special Operations Command and as an advisor to the National Counter Terror Bureau during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

After his military career, Carstens has served as a special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, which negotiates the release of American citizens wrongfully detained abroad or taken hostage by terrorists and was designated as an ambassador by the president.

He also served as senior counterinsurgency and security force assistance advisor in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Sgt. 1st Class Riley E. Lott Jr. was of several Green Berets of Native American descent.

Lott altered his birth certificate at the age of 16 in 1960 to join the Army as a medic. After basic training personnel discovered his age, he was sent home and rejoined the military the next year.

Lott spent five of his nine years of military service in Vietnam as a combat medic.

He began his education in jungle medicine at Long An, Vietnam, treating those affected by the siege of the Special Forces team as the Civilian Irregular Defense Group revolted against U.S. forces.

Sgt. 1st Class Riley E. Lott Jr. was one of the 2023 Regimental Honors inductees during and Heritage Week held at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in late April. (Army)

In Don Phuoc, he lived with, fought alongside, trained and treated Cambodian strikers who made up the Mobile Strike Force Command

Lott worked with the Cambodian forces to rebuild the abandoned Special Forces camp at To Chau and clear areas surrounding Special Forces camps at Cai Cai and My Dien II.

Lott left the Army at the age of 26 but continued to help family members, veterans and strangers in need, taking veterans to hospice care and hosting weekly veteran lunches.

He died Aug. 29, 2021.

Azadeh Aryana was born in Tehran and fled Iran during the Islamic Revolution of 1979 with her 3-year-old son. Pregnant at the time and fleeing under diplomatic immunity, she arrived in California.

While awaiting the arrival of her husband who was still in Iran, Aryana, with limited English, worked as a janitor at a fast-food restaurant.

She first rose through the ranks at the restaurant, before rising in the ranks and becoming security director of Cisco Systems, a multinational digital communications conglomerate.

Azadeh Aryana was one of the 2023 Regimental Honors inductees during and Heritage Week held at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in late April. (Army)

Aryana then opened her own security firm providing personal security to clients in the San Francisco area.

After putting her children through college, she retired and devoted her time to American service members after a family member joined Special Forces.

Over the past 17 years, she has personally shipped more than 10,000 care packages to deployed active and reserve Special Forces soldiers.

Additionally, Aryana serves as a Special Forces goodwill ambassador, consistently attending military homecomings across California and has participated as a patriot motorcycle rider.

Civil Affairs

Born in Peru and raised in Arizona, retired Col. Ernesto L. Sirvas commissioned to serve in the field artillery branch from 1987 to 1996. He then joined the Civil Affairs branch from 1996 to 2015.

At the beginning of his Civil Affairs career with the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion, Sirvas served four years in various roles including as a team leader, operations officer, company executive officer, company commander and logistics staff officer.

Sirvas’ next assignment took him to Special Operations Command South in Puerto Rico for four years, where he served as a Civil Affairs planner and command group executive officer.

Col. Ernesto L. Sirvas was one of the 2023 Regimental Honors inductees during and Heritage Week held at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in late April. (Army)

Sirvas continued his career by commanding the U.S. Army Forces Battalion in support of Joint Task Force Bravo in Honduras and returned to the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade as deputy commander.

In 2010, Sirvas was assigned to Regional Command West, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. There, he coordinated and synchronized U.S. support to stability and governance efforts in the Afghan provinces of Herat, Rarah, Badghis, and Ghor, and advised the commander and staff on matters pertaining to stability and governance.

He also worked with Spanish, Lithuanian, Italian, and U.S. governments and agencies to implement programs supporting International Security Force Assistance joint command lines of effort in western Afghanistan.

Sirvas returned to Fort Bragg to serve as the U.S. Army Special Operations Command chief of Concepts, Experimentation, and Science and Technology.

He also directed the creation of a cross-organization planning team to review and develop recommendations to redesign the U.S. Army Reserve Civil Affairs structure to enhance the soldiers’ career paths and their ability to support the conventional maneuver force commander. Furthermore, he directed the implementation of a Reserve Component Civil Affairs Captains’ Career Course.

After 28 years of Army service, Sirvas retired and continues to be of service to the military community through volunteer work, providing scholarships to military family members, donating to family readiness groups and assisting Civil Affairs soldiers and families after traumatic events.

Donald C. Barton first enlisted in the Army from 1974-1981 as an air defense artillery vulcan gunner and other positions. In 1981, he reenlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve and served at the 307 Psychological Operations Company in roles of increasing leadership until 1993. In 1993, Barton returned to active duty and served until his retirement in 2006.

After 20 years of active service and 12 years of reserve service, Barton authored and coauthored several documents that established or revised more than seven Civil Affairs military occupational specialties.

He’s also provided analysis during the Civil Affairs Force Modernization Assessment.

Donald C. Barton was one of the 2023 Regimental Honors inductees during and Heritage Week held at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in late April. (Army)

Barton is currently a Fayetteville resident.

Spencer Meredith IlI serves as a professor of National Security Strategy at the National Defense University, College of International Security Affairs.

He has spent more than half that time mentoring, advising, and educating the operational and institutional special operations forces.

He provides regional expertise on Eastern Europe, Russian, Eurasian, and Middle Eastern politics, and their roles throughout the special operations community.

Spencer Meredith IlI was one of the 2023 Regimental Honors inductees during and Heritage Week held at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in late April. (Army)

He also serves as a subject-matter expert for several geographic combatant commands, the intelligence community, and joint special operations and frequently advises the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and subordinate units at Fort Bragg.

Meredith also has articles appearing in professional publications such as Strategy Bridge, Small Wars Journal, InterAgency Journal and Foreign Policy Journal.

The Fayetteville Observer military and crime editor F.T. Norton and Army Times contributed to this report.

Editor’s Note: This article was published as part of a content-sharing agreement between Army Times and The Fayetteville Observer. This article has been updated to include additional comments from the commander of the JFK Special Warfare Center School.

K. Kassens
<![CDATA[Scientists identify remains of Army sergeant killed in Korean War]]>https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2023/04/19/scientists-identify-remains-of-army-sergeant-killed-in-korean-war/https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2023/04/19/scientists-identify-remains-of-army-sergeant-killed-in-korean-war/Wed, 19 Apr 2023 14:47:08 +0000Officials recently released information identifying the remains of a 22-year-old sergeant listed as missing in action during the Korean War.

Sgt. Richard E. Crotty, of Geneva, Illinois, served with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division on Sept. 1, 1950 when he was reported missing in action following fighting near Yongsan, South Korea, according to a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency release.

Crotty’s was never listed as a prisoner of war, according to the release. The Army made a presumptive finding of death on Dec. 31, 1953, according to the release. His remains were determined to be unrecoverable in January 1956.

Though a set of remains were recovered near Yongsan in July 1951. Officials at the time believed the remains were Crotty’s and designated as X-1667 Tanggok and buried in the United Nations Cemetery Tanggok that same month.

Scientists identified the remains of Army Sgt. Richard E. Crotty, previously listed as missing in action in 1950 following fighting during the Korean War. (Defense Department)

The Central Identification Unit Kokura, housed in Japan, reexamined X-1667 in March 1955 and made more attempts in April 1955. Experts declared the remains unidentifiable and had them transported with other unidentified remains to the National Memorial of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Crotty’s next of kin contacted the Army in 2017 and requsted the disinterment of the X-1667 remains. The remains were disinterred in September 2018 and transported for further analysis.

Agency scientists used dental, anthropological and isotope analysis to identify the remains’ as Crotty’s, officially designated as such on Feb. 3, 2023.

As one of the “unknowns,” Crotty’s name was recorded on the American Battle Monuments Commission’s Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl. Once identified, a rosette is placed next to names previously listed as unrecovered or unknown.

Crotty’s remains are scheduled for burial in Peoria, Illinois on April 29, 2023.

For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.

To see the most up-to-date statistics on DPAA recovery efforts for those unaccounted for from the Korean War, go to the Korean War fact sheet on the DPAA website at: https://www.dpaa.mil/Resources/Fact-Sheets/Article-View/Article/569610/progress-on-korean-war-personnel-accounting/

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil, or find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or https://www.linkedin.com/company/defense-pow-mia-accounting-agency.

<![CDATA[Remains of Army POW from Korean War identified]]>https://www.armytimes.com/home/middle-column/2023/04/18/remains-of-army-pow-from-korean-war-identified/https://www.armytimes.com/home/middle-column/2023/04/18/remains-of-army-pow-from-korean-war-identified/Mon, 17 Apr 2023 12:45:00 +0000Defense Department scientists have identified the remains of a 30-year-old Army sergeant who died as a prisoner of war during the Korean War.

In 1950, Sgt. 1st Class Ellis Coon, Mount Herman, Louisiana, served as a member of C Battery, 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, according to an April 5 release from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Following the Battle of Ch’ongch’on, officials reported Coon missing on Dec. 1, 1950. After the war, researchers discovered that Coon had died of malnutrition and a lack of medical care likely on Feb. 14, 1951, in POW Camp #5, according to the release.

The Army declared a presumptive finding of death in March 1954 and declared the sergeant “non-recoverable” in January 1956.

Nearly four decades later, on Dec. 21, 1993, North Korean officials transferred 34 boxes of remains believed to be of U.S. troops who had died during the war.

Personnel had recovered some of those transferred remains at the POW Camp #5. Using anthropological analysis, other evidence multiple types of DNA testing, scientists identified Coon’s remains.

The sergeant’s name is etched into the Courts of the Missing at the National Cemetery of the Pacific, along with others still missing from the Korean War, according to the release. A rosette indicating that his remains have been identified will be placed next to his name on the memorial.

The date and location of Coon’s burial have not yet been determined.

For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.

To see the most up-to-date statistics on DPAA recovery efforts for those unaccounted for from the Korean War, go to the Korean War Accounting page on the DPAA website at: https://dpaa-mil.sites.crmforce.mil/dpaaFamWebKorean.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or https://www.linkedin.com/company/defense-pow-mia-accounting-agency.